a) ice cream is the best.
b) it’s only July (which also happens to be National Ice Cream Month).
c) I’m not tired of it.
d) next Monday is National Ice Cream Day.
Several weeks ago, I spent a day in the city with my aunt and two cousins. We had been walking all day by the time 3:30pm rolled around, so we had ice cream (before dinner). At this particular time of day, Bi-Rite was pretty much the opposite of busy, and it was wonderful. It meant we could sit down inside and charge our electronic devices. It also meant that the always-friendly staff were ultra-obliging when it came to samples.
After I finished slowly eating my usual flavors, I walked over to the counter and asked to try the Hazelnut Ice Cream with Askinosie Cacao Nibs. The two employees behind the counter were occupied at the moment in an informal contest of sorts to see who could carve the most attractive-looking sample onto a spoon, and I think they were glad to have a legitimate reason to engage in that activity :)
The taste made me momentarily question my previous decision about which flavors to get that day, especially when one of the guys said they recommend pairing it with a scoop of chocolate ice cream for a Nutella-like experience (!!!). I guess that’s the problem though when every flavor sounds fantastic. This particular hazelnut ice cream was so nutty and unique, but simple, and I began to strategize how I might replicate it.
This is what I came up with! Slightly different than the real thing, it’s delicious in its own right. I started with my standby ice cream base, and added homemade hazelnut butter. After a half hour in the ice cream maker, I folded in cacao nibs, licked the spatula, and set the ice cream in the freezer to harden. And that’s it!
You can use store-bought hazelnut butter, or make your own. For this recipe, roast 1½ cups of raw hazelnuts at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes. Pour the nuts onto a clean kitchen towel and roll the nuts vigorously between the towel to remove the skins. Discard the skins and transfer the nuts to a food processor. Blend until smooth and buttery, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary. This will make about ¾ cup, just the amount called for in the recipe.
1 cup whole milk
1 cup sugar
¾ hazelnut butter
Pinch of sea salt
1 ½ cups half and half
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅓ cup cacao nibs
For the ice cream, heat the milk, sugar, and salt together in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbles form at the edge and the sugar dissolves. Add the hazelnut butter and whisk until thoroughly combined. Transfer to a mixing bowl and whisk in half and half, heavy cream, and vanilla. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
When the ice cream is done churning, fold the cacao nibs in with a sturdy spatula. (Alternately, let your ice cream machine mix them in during the last few minutes of churning.) Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and freeze for a few hours or until solid before scooping and eating.
Makes approximately 1½ quarts.